As we all get older, it can be kind of freaky to think about where you’ll be in the next ten or twenty or fifty years. What’s worse is that growing up is absolutely inevitable; there’s not a minute that goes by that you aren’t aging. But is that really such a bad thing? I’ve interviewed four women, ranging from age 17 to age 77. Their input is perhaps the most important chunk of words you’ll read today, and it’s well worth a read.

 

Shae, 17

Do you think you’re much different than you were three years ago?
“I think I’m very different than I was three years ago. I’m definitely not as shy; I’ve come out of my shell and met new people that I’m close to now. I never would’ve imagined myself as I am today, but now I wouldn’t change a thing.”

What advice from your high school experience would you want to pass on to your kids?
“Don’t get behind. Procrastination can break you. Just stay up with your studies and grades and you’ll be fine.”

Do you believe in fate?
“I guess I do and I don’t. I believe that we are led to certain things and that certain things are just destined to happen. I also believe that we can do or change what we want and have free will.”

Does growing older scare you sometimes, or are you willing to accept it with open arms?
“I’m sorta both. I’m so excited to grow up, go to college, and start a family, but I’m also horrified. I’m gonna change a lot and I guess I’m afraid of changing who I am. But I guess changing who I am now is forming who I’ll be in the future.”

What do you look forward to most about the future?
“New experiences and opportunities. I want to do things that my age restricts me of doing now, like get a tattoo, skydiving, and all sorts of things. Nothing too bad, of course, you know.”

Chelsea, 27

Do you think that you’re much different than you were ten years ago?
“In some ways I’m wiser but my core morals and values haven’t changed. I still look to set goals and achieve through gaining knowledge and working hard for what I want.”

What’s one piece of advice you’d give your teenage self?
“Aim higher. I realized, maybe too late in my high school years, the ability I have to accomplish the things I set out to do. I’m making up for lost time now.”

When you were a teenager, how often did you think about your future? Were you intrigued or infatuated with the mystery of growing older?
“All the time. I think I’ll look smashing with gray hair.”

Do you believe in fate?
“I believe that life is guided by decision after decision. Often times I do believe things happen for a reason and that could be called fate. That’s the romantic side of me that believes that.”

Does growing older scare you sometimes, or are you willing to accept it with open arms?
“I am not scared of getting old. I’m scared of missing opportunities that are age sensitive.”

What do you enjoy the most about growing older?
“Getting to eat ice cream any time of day. In all seriousness, though, I love that the whole ‘you’ll understand when you’re older’ phrase adults use is actually a thing. I DO understand why they do what they do…most of the time.”

And finally, what do you look forward to the most in your future?
“I look forward to the possibilities that life has to offer. I see it like I have a good 70 years or more left and I can do a lot in that time. I’ve done plenty in my first couple decades of life so I’m excited to push myself to stay on par with my goals and achievements as I go forward in life.”

Craig, 52

Do you think that you’re much different than you were ten years ago?
It was a lot different, yeah. That was my first year teaching, um, I was much more openly outgoing, much more “not as much of a realist” as I am now. As a teacher I was ready to change the world, and of course I was loving being a mama to young littles. But since then I’ve become more retrospective, a little bit quieter, not as comfortable in big groups of people, and much more stingy with my time. I felt like I had forever.”

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give to your teenage self?
“Study. Study. Study. And try not to be embarrassed of my parents, they end up being some of your best friends.”

When you were a teenager, how often did you think about your future? Were you intrigued or infatuated with the mystery of growing older?
“I was mostly just thinking about where I was going out next. And you know, loosely, like where I was going to college, what came next. I wanted to do something big and better, but nothing like some today. I didn’t have that work ethic, but that’s just because of how I was raised, to an extent.”

Do you believe in fate?
“No, I don’t know. For the most part, no, I think you can plan, I mean, your decisions are affected by everyone else’s. I have a problem with that because of the way Fred and I met. We were around each other so much, and I got married to someone else, and I met him late. It’s based on your choices; you have no one else to blame.”

Does growing older scare you sometimes, or are you willing to accept it with open arms?
“I don’t want to grow old, but, right now, being the age that I am, I’m working on openly accepting it and living life really fully and exploring new things, doing things I’ve never had the time or money for. I embrace being okay in my skin, how I look now. I find myself thinking more outside yourself. It’s a scary place to be, but also a cool place to be.”

What do you enjoy the most about growing older?
“Not giving a damn about what anyone else thinks, accept for the people I care about the most.”

What do you look forward to the most in your future?
“Mostly, being with Fred and watching the kind of people that my kids become, watching them be happy. And also not going to work, maybe writing a book, I don’t know.

Carole, 77

Do you think that you’re much different than you were ten years ago?
“I don’t know that I appear much different to those who know me, but, believe me, I think am very different. Ten years ago while living in Tulsa, OK, I lost my husband to a sudden illness. Suddenly, I was in a different world. Things that I had always left to him–from car purchase/repair to figuring out our taxes, etc.–were now my responsibility. While I wasn’t totally in the dark about such things, now they were on my shoulders. Selling the house, moving back to Georgia, and buying another house was really hard, but I got it done. So, I think I am lots more independent. At the same time, I find myself more of a “home body” than I used to be. When Bob was alive, we did things together. We went to church, concerts, movies, athletic events, etc. Now I watch them on television and online. We had planned to tour all of the national parks in an RV when we retired. I doubt that I will do that now; it wouldn’t be fun without him.”

What’s one piece of advice you’d give your teenage self?
“Choose your husband/wife with the idea that it is “forever,” but realize that it won’t be, so make the most of the time you have together. Choose a career that is your passion, and you will never be ‘bummed’ to go to work.”

When you were a teenager, how often did you think about your future? Were you intrigued or infatuated with the mystery of growing older? 
“Growing up with parents in a loving, long term marriage gave me an idea of what kind of life partner I wanted and how to form and cherish such a relationship. When Bob passed away, we had been together 37 years. I know that I made the right choice. Even without children (a heartache for both of us), we had a happy home. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to be a teacher.  I have been teaching for 47 years now, and I still love it.”

Do you believe in fate?
“No, not fate.  I believe that my life is in God’s hands and that, whatever happens, it passes through His hands before it reaches me.  I believe that, when I cannot understand His plan (like not being able to have children), I only have to trust His heart and His love for me.  My mother used to say that we look at life on the underside of a tapestry where it looks like a mess.  When we reach heaven, we will see the beautiful artistry on the other side where He was working, and all we didn’t understand will then make sense.”

Does growing older scare you sometimes, or are you willing to accept it with open arms?
“I am 68 now, and, believe me, being a senior citizen isn’t for sissies.  Despite my efforts to take care of myself, the inevitable deterioration of the body is real and unrelenting.  Taking (and paying for) all that medication is not pleasant, but if it keeps me operational, it’s worth it.   What I do find scary more than anything else is the possibility of suffering from Alzheimer’s or simple dementia.   With good financial planning, I am confident that I will be able to afford whatever long term care I might need.  Who knows?  Medical advances may keep that from happening or provide me with effective treatment if it does.”

What do you enjoy the most about growing older?
“What I enjoy the most about growing older is having the freedom to do exactly what I want and to say what I want. If it gets me in trouble, I just blame the error on old age!”

What do you look forward to the most in your future?
“I’ve heard it said that everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die to get there.  I am not eager for death, but I am ready whenever it comes.   I don’t fear death because, as a believer, my future is secure. It’s looking better and better.”

Each of these women have a separate point of view, which is one of society’s greatest values. While opinions can be downfalls, they also offer comfort. None of us are ever truly alone, so don’t freak about it. Because hey, it’s looking better and better.

-Reed